1951: Sixty-eight nurses and office staff, members of the Swindon Victoria Hospital group had a Christmas dinner at the Victoria Hospital followed by part of the group’s Christmas concert. Some of the concert was presented to patients on Christmas Day, a selection was given to domestics and ancillary staff, and then on New Year’s Day consultants and sisters see the concert.

1961: Sleet and rain falling on Wiltshire’s deep frozen roads turned the county into a skating rink. The party of 10 senior scouts, travelling through Swindon to this year’s Seniorama starting point at Devizes Scout Headquarters, were unable to leave Swindon because road conditions between Swindon and Devizes resulted in the Bristol Omnibus Co Ltd’s bus service being suspended.

1971: About £60 in Christmas offerings has been stolen from the safe of a Swindon church. The theft from St Mary’s Church, Rodbourne Cheney was discovered by the treasurer when she arrived to collect the money. The vestry door had been smashed and the safe door ripped open with an iron bar. The church silver was untouched.


1170: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights, believing they were acting on Henry II’s orders.

1721: Madame de Pompadour, infamous mistress of Louis XV, was born in Paris.

1809: William Ewart Gladstone was born in Liverpool. Four times British prime minister, he is remembered not only for politics but for the Gladstone bag and the Gladstone collar.

1860: The world’s first iron-clad warship, Warrior, was launched at Blackwall on the Thames.

1890: The Battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota took place, the last major conflict between Native American Indians - Sioux - and US troops.

1940: German bombers dropped 10,000 bombs on London on one of the worst nights of the Blitz. Eight Wren churches and Guildhall were destroyed.

1972: Life Magazine ended publication after 36 years as the leading weekly pictorial magazine. It restarted quarterly issues in 1974.

2006: UK settles its Anglo-American loan of post-World War II debt.

2014: A suicide bomb at Russia’s Volgograd train station killed at least 18 people and wounded 40 others.

2016: A report revealed that around 40 million adults across the UK planned to welcome in 2017 by having a ‘big night in’.

BIRTHDAYS Bernard Cribbins, comedy actor, 89; Jon Voight, actor, 79; Marianne Faithfull, singer/actress, 71; Ted Danson, actor, 70; Yvonne Elliman, singer, 66; Martin Offiah, former rugby player, 52; Jude Law, actor, 45.